Ladies-only list for Labour

The House of Commons at Westminster
The House of Commons at Westminster

The Labour Party hopes to draw up an all-women selection of potential replacements for local MP Lindsay Roy within around six weeks.

This follows a controversial decision by an organisation sub-group on the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to choose female-only prospective candidates to defend Glenrothes and Central Fife at the 2015 General Election.

Mr Roy, who won the seat in 2010 with a majority of 16,448 over the SNP and more than 62 per cent of the vote, is stepping down next year and the move is in line with a party policy to increase the number of women in Westminster.

However, the Glenrothes Constituency Labour Party (CLP) had wanted an open short list, containing male and female nominees, presenting all suitable candidates on an equal basis.

Local party activists have branded the decision undemocratic and some believe the seat will be tainted as a result.

While they still supported the party and understood it was working to a policy, they said questions about the selction process remained.

In an email to CLP secretary Jane Robertson, which the Mail has seen, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Iain McNicol, said he “completely appreciated” the CLP wished a different outcome.

The NEC was clear that LAbour needed to continue to use AWSs (all-women shortlists) in seats it was seeking to win and currently held to raise the number of women MPs.

“Those factors will have been foremost in the committee’s mind during its deliberations,” said Mr McNicol.

“I would hope you accept the NEC has to make the decision about which constituency should use AWSs. For many constituencies, this has been a positive experience and excellent candidates were selected who otherwise may not have had the opportunity.

“Our focus moving forward has to be on selecting a candidate in Glenrothes to put us in the best place in advance of the General Election.

“The procedure for local members to choose our candidate takes around six to eight weeks and I hope you will share my view that the sooner we start that process, the better.”

Ms Robertson refused to comments, saying: “The issue of short-listing for any constituency is internal Labour Party business.”

Glenrothes councillor Kay Morrison said the leaning towards “gender ethics” and minority groups was intended to make MPs more representative of the communities they served.

“I would personally prefer if we could reach that by a gradual step-by-step process, so it happens almost without people having to do anything to change it, but those interested in the equal opportunities agenda felt something more than that has to happen,” she said.

None of the other Labour councillors contacted by the Mail in Glenrothes or Levenmouth gave a response.

Mr Roy is due to address a meeting of the CLP executive this Friday in the Lomond Centre, Glenrothes.